The Voice of Marlowe's Tamburlaine in Early Shakespeare


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

I do not presume to unveil the secret of Marlowe's relation to Shakespeare, but the more I study this question the more complex the relation seems to be. In general, Shakespeare goes out of his way to conceal his indebtedness to Marlowe. Shylock in The Merchant of Venice is very differently conceived from Barabas in The Jew of Malta.1 Barabas even begins the play with heroic, vaunting speeches. Richard II is eloquent and poetic, even to a fault, whereas Edward II is rather plain and blunt and just wants to be left alone to enjoy his sodomitical pleasures. Yet both The Merchant of Venice and Richard II are clearly based on Marlowe. The Jew of Malta and Edward II offer models for Shakespeare's plays,2 and in some important sense Marlowe's plays are embedded in Shakespeare's. One can discover residual traces everywhere. Marlowe is hardly a source for Shakespeare, in the sense that Shakespeare repeats verbally his source material, but rather a model.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.